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How can disaster recovery systems use software-defined networking?

If you're considering software-defined networking in your disaster recovery platform, define your DR requirements first. SDN can help support data backup and replication.

Using software-defined networking, it's possible to design disaster recovery systems that are attuned to specific operational requirements and can identify deviations from normal operations.

Decades ago, voice and data networks were collections of fixed circuits connecting two or more points. Switching systems at each circuit termination point handled the switching and routing. The type of equipment at each end was largely unsophisticated.

With the advent of the internet and the desire to connect disparate devices with each other, networks needed greater intelligence to perform the connection setup, management and takedown activities. Over time, the network intelligence became embodied in centralized control systems that provided rules for switching, monitored the connections and facilitated connectivity, with no limits on the connecting devices or applications.

Software-defined networking (SDN) attempts to consolidate the various command and control functions in such a centrally managed network infrastructure into a simple term. Software-defined networks are increasingly part of today's networking fabric, as they can manage a broad array of devices, applications and network service protocols, such as Multiprotocol Label Switching.

With the growth of cloud-based services, SDN can be part of an overall platform that supports virtualized systems, data backup and replication requirements, and many different kinds of applications. The key is to ensure the SDN resource is optimized to disaster recovery systems whose requirements are defined by the customer and facilitated by the SDN service provider.

disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) is being offered by a growing number of vendors. When linked to a software-defined network that also supports cloud and non-cloud environments, DRaaS can provide the mechanism for launching DR procedures using the network as the transport medium.

If you are considering the use of SDN as part of your disaster recovery systems, you should define your DR requirements and consider your recovery time objectives and recovery point objectives. Next, determine how the SDN service will be used, and how it will integrate with your existing network infrastructure. Most likely, you will evaluate SDN offerings from major providers such as AT&T and Cisco. Finally, examine various DRaaS offerings, and discuss how SDN can be leveraged to achieve your DR requirements.

You may find SDN can enhance your disaster recovery systems, but be prepared to learn that it may not offer any additional value. The key is to know your DR requirements and examine the options carefully.

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